WEST AFRICAN PIDGIN ENGLISH

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WEST AFRICAN PIDGIN ENGLISH, also Pidgin English, pidgin. Short form WAPE. A continuum of English-based pidgins and creoles from GAMBIA to CAMEROON, including enclaves in French and Portuguese-speaking countries. Among its varieties are AKU in Gambia, KRIO in SIERRA LEONE, Liberian Settler English and Liberian Pidgin English, Nigerian Pidgin English, and KAMTOK or Cameroon Pidgin English. It originated in the 16c in contacts between West Africans and British sailors and traders. Its varieties are more or less mutually intelligible, and there is a complex continuum from constructions close to standard English to those far removed from it. WAPE is located midway between WEST AFRICAN ENGLISH and vernaculars spoken natively by those of its users for whom it is an additional language; some speakers, especially in cities, do not speak an African vernacular. Syntactic features of the variety furthest from standard English and with the lowest status (the basilect) are similar to those of the New World creoles, prompting researchers to speak of a family of ‘Atlantic creoles’ that includes WAPE, Gullah, Bahamian, Jamaican, Trinidadian, and Belizean. Tense and aspect are non-inflectional: bin denotes simple past or past perfect (Meri bin lef Mary left, Mary had left), de/di the progressive (Meri de it Mary is eating, Mary was eating), and don the perfective (Meri don it Mary has eaten, Mary had eaten). Depending on context, Meri it means ‘Mary ate’ or ‘Mary has eaten’ and Meri laik Ed means ‘Mary likes Ed’ or ‘Mary liked Ed’. Adjectives are used without a copula when predicative: Meri sik Mary (is) sick. In Meri de sik Mary is falling sick, the progressive de marks transition into the condition of being sick. See AFRICAN ENGLISH, CREOLE, GHANA, LIBERIA NIGERIA.

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